In The New York Times, Victoria Gomelsky reports on how the closure of the Argyle Mine in Western Australia will change the way the diamond industry sources its gems. She writes:
After mining more than 865 million carats of rough diamonds since opening in 1983, the Argyle Mine in the remote East Kimberley region of Western Australia brought the last truck of diamond-bearing ore to the surface on Nov. 3.
The owner, the Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, had announced in 2018 that, by the end of this year, it would no longer be economical to keep digging.
Argyle was famed for supplying 90 percent of the world’s pink diamonds, among the rarest and most valuable gems on earth. But it was also noted, if less celebrated, for its vast reserve of inexpensive brownish diamonds, many of them in colors and qualities once shunned by fine jewelers. The low-end product was embraced by the Indian cutting industry in the late 1990s, when manufacturers based in Gujarat began using the gems to make jewelry that could retail for as little as $199.
Now, the mine’s long-anticipated closure is prompting an industrywide conversation about the future of natural, or mined, diamond supplies at both the high and low ends of the market, and how competition from the thriving lab-grown diamond sector will reshape consumer demand in years to come.
It’s not something a future bridal couple or jewelry fan might notice for a year or two, but when dealers sell what remains of their Argyle stocks, pink diamonds are expected to become costlier, while lower-end jewelry made with natural diamonds may become more scarce.
Read more here.